An informative story, told in both English and Nkongolo’s Swahili translation, about the Chagga tribe, who live on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.
Ngama, son of the village chief, notices a gathering in the village and learns that the country’s leader has come to tell the Chagga that the Republic of Tanzania is now independent of white rule. The men must now climb the mountain and mark their independence with a torch. Ngama assumes he will go, but his father says it is only for men, and Ngama is not yet a man. Crestfallen but undeterred, Ngama sneaks out of the village behind the men the next morning, and although they all eventually know he has followed them into the rugged terrain of the snow-capped mountain, no one makes him turn back. Keeping his distance, he receives only minimal help from the men despite being underdressed for cold weather, underprepared in terms of food and provisions for the journey, and exhausted from trying to breathe at high elevations. But in the end, Ngama receives affirmation of his leadership potential because of his determination. Campbell’s colorful and highly textured paintings capture the vastness of the terrain and the vibrancy of the characters’ patterned clothing. An afterword provides further information about Kilimanjaro, the Chagga, and Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere.
The importance of freedom in Tanzania comes through clearly. (Picture book. 6-8)